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The Other Met Gala Dinner

Inside the annual beauty industry dinner that celebrates the talent behind the talent.

The Other Met Gala Dinner

Thom Priano, Garren, and Sandy Linter.

Courtesy of Tiffany Sage/

After the celebrities have made their way up the Met Gala steps and into the museum, their glam teams grab their kits and head to Mr. Chow on 57th Street for another celebration. As more guests arrived, a sense of jubilation filled the room—as if the ghosts of the restaurant’s most famous patrons, like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, still hovered nearby.

This dinner, the brainchild of makeup artist Troy Surratt and hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins, is now an annual celebration of the makeup artists, hair stylists, and nail artists behind the Met Gala beauty looks. It began in 2013 as an intimate gathering at Via Carota and has grown since. This year’s event, presented by Violet Grey and Instagram, is the biggest yet, with over 100 guests.

The Met Gala is considered “fashion’s biggest night,” and the same can be said of beauty. “It’s our Oscars,” says Coree Moreno, who did Lil Nas X’s hair for the Met Gala. “The Met is an opportunity for the talent to have fun,” explains Surratt. “Beauty [teams] get to take risks and be creative.” It’s also one of the very few nights where all the artists are in the same city and have the same availability, making it a reunion of sorts. “I look forward to this every year,” says Jenny Cho, who did Greta Lee’s hair for the night. “It's a nice way to bring the community together. Nowadays, we only really see each other on Instagram.”

The reunions extended beyond the artists—co-host Kristie Dash, head of beauty partnerships at Instagram, reunited with co-host Sarah Brown, her former boss and current chief brand officer at Violet Grey. About a decade ago, when Brown was the beauty director at Vogue, Dash was her intern.

The hosts for the evening: Troy Surratt, Harold James, Nai’Vasha Grace, Sarah Brown, Jacob Rozenberg, Kristie Dash, and Nathaniel Hawkins.

Fara Homidi and Jawara.

Danilo Dixon and James Pecis.

The guest list featured a mix of the up-and-coming artists and industry icons, allowing younger artists to meet those who have inspired them for years. “I feel so honored to be in a room with such incredibly talented people in this industry,” shared hairstylist Jenna Perry, whose clients for the night included Camila Marone and Karlie Kloss. “I looked up to so many of them, and being at a table with them is surreal.” Brown agrees: "These people have contributed so much to the history of beauty and image-making," says Brown. "These are the people who have created the most iconic looks and images in the world. The level of talent and creativity in the room is off the charts, and it's very humbling to be there."

Last year, as a testament to the talent in the room, Surratt and Hawkins started a new tradition, honoring one of their own with an Icon Award. Makeup artist Sandy Linter was the 2023 recipient, and at this year’s gathering, hairstylist Garren was honored.

Sami Knight, Molly Greenwald, and Lilly Keys.

Deborah Lippmann, Garren, Sandy Linter, and Thom Priano.

In September 2008, Posh Spice became Victoria Beckham. Garren removed her extensions, convinced her to chop off all her hair, then dyed it chocolate brown. A few days later, Beckham announced that she was launching an eponymous fashion line. She was now a businesswoman with the look to match.

A striking beauty image can do many things. It passes through society, altering our appearance, how we present ourselves, and even conceive of our identity. Garren is the hairstylist behind images imprinted on our collective consciousness: Madonna’s 1991 Vanity Fair cover, Andy Warhol’s Farrah Fawcett silkscreen portraits. That’s exactly why Surratt and Hawkins chose to honor him. “We want to be careful about not making it a big award event,” explains Surratt, “but it’s an opportunity with everybody together [where we can] honor the people who have really contributed to our small industry.”

“It’s so humbling,” Garren tells me about being honored at this year’s dinner. Reflecting on his career, he says, “I was very lucky that I always got slotted with great teams. I worked with Irving Penn and [Richard] Avedon and [Stephen] Meisel…[I had] luck with Farrah and luck with Madonna.”

Takisha Sturdivant-Drew.

Harold James and Marty Harper.

Peter Lux, Tobi Henney, David Von Cannon and Owen Gould.

Rebecca Restrepo, Larry Sims, and Takisha Sturdivant-Drew.

Garren gave a shout-out to another legendary hairstylist, Christiaan Houtenbos, in the room. Early in his career, Garren won a hair competition where Christiaan was one of the judges. Houtenbos encouraged him to move to New York, where he mentored him. “Thank you, Christiaan,” said Garren during his speech. “You elevated me, you gave me my dream, and I thank you for that.”

The beauty industry is known to be fashion’s warmer, kinder counterpart, and several stories shared throughout the night reflect that idea. Hawkins, one of Garren’s former assistants, also gave a speech in which he called out hairstylist Jimmy Paul. “Jimmy Paul gave a friend of mine a telephone number and said, ‘Use my name when you call,’ which changed the course of my life.” Moreno shared with me how, at the beginning of his career, he sent an Instagram DM to hairstylist Vernon François; fast-forward a few days, and Moreno was in LA, assisting Francois on the set of a Vanity Fair cover shoot.

“It’s bigger than just celebrating beauty; it’s celebrating my friends, celebrating my colleagues, us really reveling in one another,” says co-host Nai’vasha Grace. “Our artist community is a very special community.”

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